According to the old adage, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” But what about cloud computing? Does it also follow suit? Be it in the cloud, on the cloud, or transitioning to the cloud, there are still businesses out there who are not only hesitant to make the move, they’re downright scared.
2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as the year when most companies had little or no choice but to transform their operations, literally, overnight. To maintain business continuity and agility, and support the sudden shift to remote working brought on by the pandemic, some 6 out of 10 businesses moved their operations to the cloud, in the hope of enhancing security and reliability. According to IT market analyst firm, Gartner, by 2025, 85% of enterprises will have a cloud-first principle, and that an estimated 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms. Wow!
But despite the fact that a vast majority of companies are deploying some type of new-fangled cloud services, why are others still running their most critical computing workloads on on-premise systems? Why aren’t ALL businesses, not only large enterprises, at the cloud computing starting gate, today?
There are several factors holding back cloud adoption, especially for SMBs. While enterprises seem to have a handle, so to speak, on the cloud, smaller organizations considering cloud migration are often steeped in confusion about the many available cloud options, namely – when, where, and how to get started. Let’s take a look at the 4 key reasons today’s SMBs either hold out, hold back, or don’t grab hold of cloud technologies.
For starters, what is ‘moving to the cloud’?
Cloud computing, or cloud technology, as it’s often called, is far from being new. While the concept technically launched in the mid-1990s, cloud computing became mainstream in the mid-2000s, with the emergence of the “Big 3” – Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Moving, transitioning, or migrating to the cloud, is the process of moving business data, applications or other related operational business elements to a cloud computing environment, the delivery of various services via the Internet, including data storage, servers, databases, networking, and software. Cloud-based storage makes it possible to save files to a remote database, and retrieve them on demand. The most common example is the transfer of business data and applications from a local on-premise data center to a public cloud.
To really “move to the cloud,” a business must rethink, review, and revisualize its entire IT operation, from the bottom, up. In essence, this means that all employees’ workstations would be running cloud-based apps, such as basic MS programs, like Word and Excel, on a cloud provider’s servers, rather than on their in-house servers. Company data and related applications would be hosted remotely, replacing reams of hard drives on site, enabling employees with various user permission levels, to access this data at any time from any location, and on any device, with a basic Internet connection.
The 4 Showstoppers: Why some SMBs are reluctant to make the move
I’m bombarded by pricing models
For many SMBs, when it comes to deciding on the most efficient and most cost-effective pricing model, they’re often confused by public cloud vendors’ offerings. For one thing, when moving to the cloud, there can be pretty high licensing fees upfront, not to mention (and some vendors don’t mention!) the hidden costs of using cloud services. Hidden costs can be as simple as accessing data from a new cloud platform, and finding out it’s exceedingly higher than anticipated. SMBs on a tight budget, are less likely to take chances, and many choose to stay with their on-premise systems, to simply avoid the confusion in understanding the various pricing models, or worse, choosing the wrong one.
Lesson Learned: There are three types of cloud services – Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In fact, it’s the flexibility of all three cloud pricing models than gives SMBs the scalability they need to grow their business, and not be saddled with legacy on-premise software and hardware that requires constant maintenance and updates. For ‘seasonal’ businesses (e.g., agriculture/produce providers, winter sporting goods, etc.), for example, it’s easier to predict costs when paying per user, and easy to increase cloud services during peak periods, and reduce them during slower seasons.
My data’s more secure when it’s beside me
Some small business owners and managers have been conditioned to believe that company data is safer on-site on their own servers, where they can “see” it, as opposed to in the cloud. As a result, data security is one of the key reasons for SMBs to not transition to the cloud. They’re equally concerned about trusting a cloud service provider to keep their data safe amongst the reams of data hosted for other clients, especially with the recent surge in security breaches, and the number of talented hackers on the rise.
Lesson Learned: When business data is stored on in-house on-premise infrastructure, it’s at risk all the time. This includes actual thefts and break-ins, unintentional data edits or deletions, and potential damage caused by fires and floods. No matter what storage option businesses use on-site, their critical data will be more secure, and better protected when it’s stored in a data center in the cloud.
Now, everyone can access my business data
Many SMBs are reluctant to move to the cloud because they’re not entirely sure where their data will be stored, and with that, who can actually access it. It’s a tough call for small businesses who’ve been accustom to traditional on-premise installations, where, if they want to access and share data, they have to be in the same physical location as their data storage unit, namely, their database server. Despite the fact that with cloud services, there’s no restriction on location, and data can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, with the same stringent user permission levels, these same SMBs would rather keep their data, literally, under lock and key (at head office).
Lesson Learned: Cloud computing supports high data availability. This means that business data stored in the cloud will be accessible, editable, and sharable, even if all else… fails. When there’s a power outage or the Internet’s down in the office, businesses can still access their data and related applications from any desktop, laptop, mobile device or tablet, from home, or from any other location. With the surge in remote working, and mobile workforces out in droves, company employees will require even greater access to business data that only cloud-based services can provide.
My employees will “lose it” not use it
According to market intelligence firm, IDC, 39% of businesses don’t have the skills necessary for cloud migration, with companies claiming they’re just not sure they have the required competency to move to the cloud. For many SMBs, it’s fear of the unknown, and fear of employee pushback that fuels their unwillingness to move. Cloud migration requires tedious and time-consuming data cleansing and other modifications, where some SMBs simply don’t have the time, resources, nor the “patience” to handle the data migration process. Other small business owners and managers would rather fight than switch, and prefer not to disrupt employee productivity by moving operations to the cloud.
Lesson Learned: Investing in cloud computing, and migrating data and other applications to the cloud, is not just an investment in technology – it’s a critical investment in the people who will use the technology. Onboarding any new system in an organization of any size requires proper training, and successful cloud migration means training all employees on how to use the new system. Professional training courses will give new users the confidence they need to onboard the system from the get-go, and also help them independently handle performance issues, such as system latency and downtime.
Now, about that silver lining…
If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, and if you haven’t yet moved your business to the cloud, rest assured, you are not alone. Cloud service providers, be it the global giants, or smaller, local cloud-hosting companies, are enhancing their platform capacity, security, and their expertise, right this second. And they’re about to stop any time soon. In the meantime, more and more SMBs are turning their attention to the cloud, with the understanding that today’s cloud and hybrid cloud solutions outrank and outweigh their sole reliance on on-premise systems.
There’s one thing we all know to be true – competition waits for no one. Despite the unwillingness to change, investing considerable time, effort, and costs in selecting the right cloud provider with the right cloud services for your small business, it’s well worth making the move. Even if your business is efficient, productive, and profitable today, running seamlessly on your on-premise infrastructure, that’s great. But tomorrow, cloud-based services will come calling… if you haven’t already called them, first.
Asking the right questions can make the process of moving to the cloud easier. To learn more about how you can successfully move your business to the cloud, contact us for a no-obligation call with one of our cloud ERP implementation experts.